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Collaboration Technology and the Future Workplace

May 5, 2014 at 9:17 am PST

I often get asked by customers and partners what it takes to create an activity-based workplace – one that gets employees out of assigned cubicles and gives them a variety of spaces to use based on what they need to do and who they need to connect with throughout the day.

There’s no doubt that the physical environment in which we work is important. Spaces that are clean, well-lit, and attractive can go a long way towards fostering productivity, positive attitudes, and teamwork. But configuring your physical space is just one part of the overall solution.

Embedding collaboration technology into your space design is critical to the success of any workplace transformation effort. Employees need seamless, uninterrupted access to the information they need to get their jobs done. And the tools they use must be as intuitive as their own personal devices.

By “intuitive,” I mean being able to:

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  • Make and receive calls on any device, whether it’s a desk phone, laptop, mobile phone or tablet
  • Access email and corporate intranet anywhere on campus – wirelessly and securely
  • Find people in your organization, check availability, and connect using instant messaging, voice, video, desktop sharing, or conferencing
  • Engage in real-time, face-to-face collaboration and team building sessions – both planned and spontaneous – with colleagues around the globe

These are the ways in which workplace transformation can improve productivity Read More »

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Message to IT: Lead the Charge in Creating the Workplace of the Future

April 14, 2014 at 7:56 am PST

As I visit customers and partners around the world, I see that many of you are excited about the idea of “workplace transformation.” The reason is clear: workplace-related costs are usually among a company’s top three expense items. Optimizing these assets and ensuring that they support the needs of the business is – or should be – a top priority.

collab_cubesWhere we work is becoming more mobile, more flexible, and more collaborative than ever. This has made the traditional cubicle-based workplace – with its overbooked meeting rooms and rows of assigned cubicles sitting empty—obsolete. According to CoreNet Global, around 60% of a company’s desks are vacant at one time because workers are either on the road or in meetings.1 Creating what we call an “activity-based workplace” will help you keep up with evolving work practices, improve employee engagement, and build for the workforce of the future. It will also help you use your physical space more efficiently.

An activity-based workplace unshackles your employees from their desks and gives them a variety of work spaces work_space_2to use based on the activities they need perform at a given time. This could be a typical workstation, an individual quiet room, a small team huddle space, an audio privacy room, a Telepresence room, or an open project area. Whatever the choice, they’ll have seamless access to the tools they need to get their jobs done. Any desk phone becomes “their” phone, and pervasive and secure wireless enables access to the corporate internet, email, calendars, and collaboration solutions such as IM and presence, web, and video conferencing.

Read More »

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Surviving the Conference Call: There is a Better Way

Wall Street Journal writer Sue Shellenbarger makes some great points in her recent article “Surviving the Conference Call.” She points out many of the downsides of not collaborating in person — people multitasking during calls, bad audio, the inability to build rapport.

I remember those days well. For me, they’re in the past because I use video on nearly every call I make, whether it’s a group conference call or a 1:1 conversation with a co-worker.

Shellenbarger reports that about 65% of all conferencing is still done via audio calls, according to Wainhouse Research. To some, video may seem like the future, but it’s really available and affordable here and now. It’s moving from an executive-only tool to something available to everyone.

At first I was surprised that Wainhouse predicts time spent in audio conferences in the U.S. will continue to grow 9.6% a year through 2017. But in context, it’s pretty slow growth compared to predictions for video conferencing (check out Figure 14).

True, video is a new concept for many of us. Just the idea of being heard and seen is a hurdle for some people. I used to hide from cameras at parties and now I use one throughout the day. The benefits quickly outweighed any awkwardness. I found right away that the ability to have eye contact with people and see their physical reactions during a conversation makes a significant difference in the communication. Read More »

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Staying Ahead of the Collaboration Requirements Curve

March 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm PST

In my last blog I talked about how optimization is shifting from a post-deployment activity to a regularly scheduled maintenance priority. Have we seen this shift in action? Yes, and it makes a big difference in how well your IT team can stay ahead of the curve to keep up with changing business requirements.

Case in point: A financial services company had teams all over the world, and conferencing was part of the company’s culture. Because of the popularity of video conferencing, conference rooms had to be scheduled hours or even days in advance. Wait times like these were unacceptable for urgent meetings. For a sales team, meeting delays can literally be a deal breaker. That’s why this financial services company decided to add on-demand video conferencing to its collaboration tools.

Responding quickly to unanticipated needs like this requires an understanding of the performance capabilities of your collaboration infrastructure. If you’ve taken a systemic approach to your collaboration performance, you’ll not only be able to respond to new requirements but you’ll be able to anticipate them.

This customer used Cisco’s Collaboration Optimization Services to keep their collaboration solution running at Read More »

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Bringing Back Music Education to Our Schools

February 27, 2014 at 8:38 am PST

While many are arguing the existence of a comeback in liberal arts education, too many public schools are seeing a decline in arts education due to budget and resource cuts. The benefits of music and arts education are well documented, but we continue to see schools losing music programs.

Unfortunately, cutting music programs in public schools tends to impact low-income students disproportionately, as private access is available to those who can afford and support it. However, people and technology are making a difference and finding a way to bring music education to schools in new ways. Read More »

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